Hugh Pickens writes:
Scott Adams of Dilbert fame writes on his blog that science's biggest fail of all time is 'everything about diet and fitness':
I used to think fatty food made you fat. Now it seems the opposite is true. Eating lots of peanuts, avocados, and cheese, for example, probably decreases your appetite and keeps you thin. I used to think vitamins had been thoroughly studied for their health trade-offs. They haven’t. The reason you take one multivitamin pill a day is marketing, not science. I used to think the U.S. food pyramid was good science. In the past it was not, and I assume it is not now. I used to think drinking one glass of alcohol a day is good for health, but now I think that idea is probably just a correlation found in studies.
According to Adams, the direct problem of science is that it has been collectively steering an entire generation toward obesity, diabetes, and coronary problems. But the indirect problem might be worse: It is hard to trust science because it has a credibility issue that it earned. "I think science has earned its lack of credibility with the public. If you kick me in the balls for 20-years, how do you expect me to close my eyes and trust you?"
You're letting a lot of frauds off the hook and blaming the least qualified people, all based on one line of what I wrote. This is me calling Mr. sound bite out for bad reporting :-)
What of the doctors who jump on the bandwagon? They do have the necessary education to make the judgement call, but there they are on the bandwagon. The nutritionists? It';s their entire job description to know better!
What would we do with a tax accountant who told his clients "Yes, it's totally OK to deduct the cost of your daily starbucks as a medical expense!".
That's a lot of people who are EXPECTED to know better but don't. The rest of the people are completely in the right to stop trusting them as a whole. Clearly they aren't up to the job. They certainly are presented as scientists (or at least well educated in science so they can act as it's spokesmen).
Why do you think it is that people ignore the doctor who says "I don't think you should eat that much bacon"? It's because the diet he recommended last time tasted like sweetened cardboard and turned out to be a leading cause of type 2 diabetes. The bacon guy's diet probably isn't a good idea but at least that one doesn't make you miserable until the preventable disease shows up.
You are probably expecting too much if you expect the average person to see right through the bad studies written up to snow a peer review (successfully). Effectively, you demand that the average man on the street be a better scientist than a peer review panel.
I"m not asking people to study and see through medical studies, I'm asking them to realize there is no magic bullet easy way out. It is the same thing your grandfather has been saying, and his grandfather too, about the need to put in the work, there are no easy answers, if it looks too good to be true, etc. I'm also not expecting people will follow common sense, because, at least when it comes to health, it doesn't happen. There are a variety of reasons people don't get enough exercise, don't eat well, etc., and really everyone knows that they need to eat right and exercise, but they're willing time and time again to take a shot at the next person that comes along that tells them they don't need to put in the effort, all they need to do is to take a pill, or eat a food, or whatever. We fool ourselves, and I think we also don't really expect it to work, but, what if it does? Maybe, just maybe, I don't need to go to the gym three times a week, I'll give this a try.
I think this is the reason that people ignore sensible advice from anyone, whether it is from doctors or anyone else. It is the same thing you see in politics. People listen and believe first to what they want to believe. Who are you going to vote for, the guy who says we need to roll up our sleeves and make sacrifices, or the guy who says you don't need to make sacrifices and in fact, I'll cut your taxes to boot? The guy who says you need to get off your ass and get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise in a day, or the guy who says you just need to take this pill and make no changes to your current lifestyle?
I don't know much about nutritionists, but I feel very comfortable saying that most doctors are going to recommend the best thing for the majority of their patients to do is eat well and exercise. They don't push fad diets unless either they have a stake in the game, or their patient is insisting on something that goes beyond eating well and exercising. There's plenty of blame to cast on this topic, but I still feel the bulk of it falls on us. When they sprinkle a few grams of oat bran on a Twinkie, if you feed the hype machine by snarfing down a box of them thinking you can somehow do it guilt-free, then it is hard to lay the blame elsewhere. If these things weren't chased with such fervor and the message taken in moderation, that would be one thing, but when it comes to health topics people don't act very rationally.
How are these people supposed to know what constitutes eating right when their doctor and their nutritionist keep jumping on every kooky bandwagon? Who is supposed to tell them what is 'right'? Their health teacher from back in high school who is also on the bandwagon (and is probably a PE teacher, not a medical professional or nutritionist)? Certainly they weren't born knowing what to eat.
Clearly they need to look to some other source to know what might constitute eating right. That's what Adams is saying.
They are now ignoring doctors because the advice they got from their doctor turned out to NOT be sensible at all.
We all need to be responsible for ourselves. What I mean is, nobody gets more out of your life than you do, and any of your life choices can be guided by common knowledge, but you need to know your limitations and, specifically, how your body uniquely responds to different foods, medications, and exercise. So, whether any particular technique or diet or product is good for you needs to be viewed through the lens of your life experience. If a nutritionist knows what your diet needs to be better than you do without even knowing your lifestyle - you're doing it wrong.
So, yes, vegetables are good for you for obvious reasons, but don't eat the ones you're allergic to, and select for the ones with the proportion of vitamins you need. Don't use margarine, because that stuff is NOT healthier for you than butter... unless it is, because of a dairy intolerance, or whatever else. Pay attention, and apply the scientific knowledge which applies to your situation.
The only problem is that people don't want to think, don't want to do the work of keeping track of these things, they want someone else to do their thinking for them. And so the media carries the power to give the official record of the state of science, 30 seconds at a time.
Again, styep 1 is to tune out the advertisers, government agencies, doctors and nutritionists. That leaves Grandma I guess.